Latest draft projection has Packers repeating Quay Walker mistake

Green Bay Packers, Quay Walker
Green Bay Packers, Quay Walker / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

The Green Bay Packers have high hopes for Quay Walker, especially in a new defensive scheme, but it's also fair to say he hasn't lived up to first-round expectations over the past two seasons.

It was a surprise when the Packers selected Walker with the 22nd overall pick in 2022. While he met their size and athletic thresholds, they usually prioritize premium positions early in the draft. Walker has been good, not great, and inconsistent despite playing a crucial role in the middle of Green Bay's defense.

The Packers will likely bolster its linebacker depth in this year's draft following the departure of De'Vondre Campbell. A switch to a 4-3 system adds greater importance to the position, and Green Bay may need to bring in two or three linebackers between now and the start of training camp.

It's a position they should avoid with the No. 25 pick, but it doesn't mean they will. A recent mock draft by Bill Huber of Sports Illustrated has the Packers selecting Texas A&M linebacker Edgerrin Cooper in the first round.

Edgerrin Cooper at No. 25 would be a repeat of Packers' mistake in 2022

Cooper would upgrade the Packers' defense—he has been a popular choice in our mock drafts—but No. 25 would be too early.

But there's reason to believe Green Bay could make this move on draft day. According to Ross Uglem of Packer Report, the Packers "really like" Cooper. And they made a similar move only two years ago.

Walker was a surprise pick in 2022, not just because he doesn't play a premium position. According to NFL Mock Draft Database, Walker was 49th on the consensus big board and considered a second-round pick. Green Bay selected him 22nd overall, passing on players at premium positions, like tackle Tyler Smith and edge rusher Jermaine Johnson, who have become Pro Bowlers.

Cooper is 44th on this year's consensus big board. The Packers pick 25th in the first round.

Yes, linebacker is arguably the Packers' top need, and Cooper would be a great fit in Jeff Hafley's defense. However, going against consensus and reaching for a position of need is rarely a good move, as Green Bay found out two years ago.

With as many as five quarterbacks potentially going before the Packers' first pick, they could have the opportunity to land one of the best offensive linemen or cornerbacks at No. 25. Taking another off-ball linebacker this early would be a huge risk.

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